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A diagnosis of triple negative (TN) breast cancer means that the tumour does not have the three most common types of receptor that promotes tumour growth. Common therapies for this cancer type are therefore ineffective and patients have a poor prognosis. Efforts are being made to design new therapies and researchers are looking at the capability of viruses to deliver effective therapies. Viruses are extremely efficient vectors for intracellular delivery, but attempts to use them to treat disease has been associated with undesirable side-effects including mortality in some cases. Recently, much safer synthetic analogues for viruses have been developed. A research group from the University of Sheffield has designed synthetic Dengue virus-mimicking nanoparticles to target TN breast cancer.
The team were able to selectively target TN breast cancer cells and show that genetic material can be efficiently delivered to the cell nuclei while maintaining high cell viability. They used small angle X-ray scattering and diffraction (SAXS) analysis on beamline I22 to accurately characterise the nanoparticles. This work shows potential for new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of TN breast cancer.
Zinc concentration is a known biomarker for prostate cancer and is markedly reduced in cancer while remaining high in benign conditions. Until recently zinc concentration could only be measured using a tissue biopsy, but a research team from the University of Texas has been exploring non-invasive imaging methods using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and synchotron radiation X-ray fluourescence (µSR-XRF). They used a zinc responsive contrast agent to detect zinc release in the prostate in a mouse model and confirmed that zinc concentration was associated with the presence of malignant tissue. The team worked on beamline I18 during the study and highlighted the advantage of using MRI to characterise the distribution and trafficking of zinc in healthy and malignant prostate tissue. These initial studies may provide an important way forward for the early diagnosis and treatment of prostate disease.
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